Native American Civil Rights

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Native American Civil Rights

Key Events

1956- US government passed the Indian Relocation Act (IRA). The goal was to get American Indians to assimilate into European American society. The IRA paid for the native people to move into the cities and leave the reservations because they believed that it would help them live in the contemporary urban culture. For the American Indians, it was difficult because they faced discrimination when seeking jobs. This motivated some people to join together and protest.

1964- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was put into action. This was a "landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States". It outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

1968- American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded by two Ojibwe men, Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt. At first they focused on helping American Indians in the Twin Cities area, monitoring police to make sure they didn't mistreat American Indians, finding lawers to help those who had been arrested, and helping them find jobs. Soon the organization grew into a national movement. They confronted the federal government and attempted to respect American Indians and live up to the commitments made in treaties.

1971- AIM took over the Twin Cities Naval Air Station at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which was in the process of being closed down. They were intending to open a school where American Indian children could learn in a Native American atmosphere. Many activists climbed over the fence and broke open the gates for more supporters to get in. Four days after the takeover, the protesters were ordered to leave. They raised public awareness for their cause.

1973- On February 27, 250 Sioux Indians led by AIM convene in the South Dakota reservation of Wounded Knee, the site of an 1890 massacre. The occupation called global attention to unsafe living conditions and generations of mistreatment from federal and local agencies, and is considered one of AIM's greatest achievements. They occupied the village for 71 days until they were forced to surrender on May 8 by federal officials after numerous fights and several deaths.

1969 to 1971- From November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971, activist group called Indians of All Tribes along with a total of 2,400 Native Americans stayed on Alcatraz Island for over 19 months. The occupation succeeded in getting the federal government to end its policy of termination and adopt an official policy of tribal sovreignty. From 1970 to 1971, Congress passed 52 legislative proposals on behalf of American Indians to support tribal self-rule. This motivated over 70 more takeovers of federal facilities in the future because of the successfulness of this demonstration.

1978- Several hundred American Indian activists and supporters marched for five months (3,200 miles) from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to protest threats to tribal lands and water rights. It was also meant to symbolize the removal of American Indians from their homelands and to draw attention to the continuing problems of Indian people and their communities.

Takeover of Air Station

The Longest Walk


Wounded Knee

"I want to live and fight for my people. I want to live and fight for my struggles so that I myself can see an end to...discrimination."-Dennis Banks

Native American Civil RightsBy Sarah J.


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